Ginger Nuts of Horror
BY AMBER FALLON
It begins with that low hiss, that white noise kiss of static that no other media seems to possess. Then there's a crackle, the meeting of vinyl grooves with a needle, and the music begins.
For most people, music carries memories; listening to it brings us back to different times in our lives. It's almost magical, like being able to fold a snapshot of yourself up like a sweater and tuck it away in a drawer to bring out again later. For me, records remind me of my brother.
My brother loved music more than anyone I've ever known, but he wasn't really into the more modern applications. He scorned CDs and MP3s in favor of things he could feel, collect, bring to his heart by way of his ears. His collections of 8 track and cassette tapes, reel-to-reels, and especially vinyl records were impressive. By the age of 10, he was a well known figure around the local swap meets and flea markets. Kindly vendors would set aside special selections for him. He impressed everyone he knew with his innate ability to diagnose and repair machines that went out of fad years before his birth, and he befriended more than one of those vendors by talking them up about their tastes in music. Listening to him carrying on about Ozzy, Alice Cooper, Iron Maiden, and many, many more never ceased to bring a smile to my face and the image of a small, frail, tow-headed boy grinning and chatting about his love of old school metal with an aging biker peddling milk crates full of old records remains etched into my memory.
Nothing brings those feelings back like listening to Black Sabbath, one of his favorite bands. He ragged on Ozzy for his solo work, though I noted that he played that, too, but his true love was his Sabbath collection and he played it often. My little brother introduced me to a lot of what remain my favorite bands. How many people can say that?
One of the most vivid memories I have is of lying on the floor in our shared bedroom, reading comic books and eating leftover Halloween candy. My brother hopped up suddenly and said, "Wait, you have to listen to this!" with that excited grin on his face. He pulled a record with some kind of robots or something going up escalators on it from a grocery store bag in the corner and set the needle on the vinyl disc inside. "Back Street Kids" began to play and his eyes lit up. I snatched the cover from his hands and read the back as we rolled into "It's Alright" and "Gypsy". We stayed that way all afternoon, listening to that record and fighting over who got the last Reese's peanut butter cup, pausing only to sneak into the kitchen for a few purloined snack cakes to keep the sugar high going, fueling our musical adventure with junk food.
Whenever I hear those songs, from the palpable heartache of "She's Gone" to the defiance of "You Won't Change Me", I think of my brother and of the thing that unified us both, the connection we forged through music.